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Reflections on a blog

self-reflecting

Self-refelction

I started this blog at the beginning of 2011. Initially, it was a part of my studies in the Masters of Information Studies (MIS) which I have been completing part-time. My posts are often musings related to studies, tangents spurred by thoughts related to the information sector and even divergences based on personal interests. Quite broad really, but as the first blog it proved a great place to dive in and just swim.

Now, as I am nearing completion of the MIS, with just one subject left, the question of ‘where to’ with this blog has arisen. Once the overarching studylink disappears, what will the focus of this blog be?

You see, this is not my only blog, I have other blogs dedicated to different purposes including creative writing and arts practice blogs. Alongside these other blogs I actively create content and share with other social media platforms. Clearly, there is plenty to keep me engaged and contributing.

It appears with social media, many take an approach of cross-posting the same information across numerous sites. It’s similar to marketing strategies where the aim is to reach as many audiences across as many platforms as possible. However, whilst I cross-pollinate some of my posts, as iterations across different sites, I have tended to take an approach that seems to be more compartmentalised in approach.

I tend to separate my focus in content contribution for different purposes to enable connection with distinct audiences/communities in some sites that do not exist on other platforms. I appreciate that some communities of connection in the virtual sphere are based on specific interests. For instance, with my arts practice, it is a distinct and specific focus. Some of the people I have connected with are only interested in my paper cutting and linocuts. With my writing, yet again it may be a different connection and so on. Not everyone that likes my street-art documenting, for instance, will be interested in my experimental videos or my writing and vice versa.

I’m acutely aware that my interests shared, are dispersed in such a manner and seem to focus more on maintaining smaller communities of interest instead of amalgamating into one broad group. Whether this approach works or not is difficult to fully gauge, but it suits me for now.

On this blog I have probably incorporated the most diverse musings and the structure is loosely held together with a focus on the sharing of information. Obviously, some of my study musings will dissipate over time but what else….

In reflecting, I’ve decided this blog will function as a blog of reviews. By reviews, I will continue with technology reviews, book reviews and my personal musings on arts. In the end I’m still sharing information but adding a more focussed approach. It seems to suit me just fine.

Maybe, Ill even revamp the look of this blog too…..

 

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Communication skills in a Library 2.0

Old phoneboxes

Old Phoneboxes ~ cc licensed and shared by Steve Parker

The past week, my study has enabled me to focus on the necessary digital skills for librarians and offer up what I felt was the most important skill required of a librarian today.

In reading chapter 0 from Burke (2009, pp 3-9), the following list of technologies or technological skills used on a regular basis have been offered up by surveyed responses from librarians…

Table 0-1 from Burke(2009, p. 6)

Technology or technology skill

Percentage of respondents
E-mail 97.9
Word Processing 96.2
Web searching 94.1
Searching library databases 92.7
Using an integrated library sytem 86.3
Web navigation 80.7
Teaching others to use technology 79.1
Spreadsheets 78.3
File management/operating system navigation skills 62.3
Troubleshooting technology 61.9
Presentation software 60.01
Scanners and similar devices 57.8
Database software 54.1
Educational copyright knowledge 47.6
Creating online instructional materials/products 43.0
Making technology purchase decisions 40.2
Installing software 38.7
Web design 38.7
Instant messaging 36.7
Computer security knowledge 32.6
Blogging 28.4
Installing technology equipment 24.9
Graphic design 21.3
Assistive/adaptive technology 18.1
Network management 10.9
Other 9.8
Computer programming 8.5

In looking at this list, I questioned my own skills. I treated the list as if it is a checklist leading to an assessment of my own proficiencies and offerings to the field of librarianship. The following is a snippet from my forum contribution in the past week regarding my offerings and areas that I would like to develop.

One skill that I am embarrassed to admit I am not proficient at is creating and integrating spreadsheets. Most people present it as being incredibly straightforward and easy to grasp. It is an area I have never really mastered. (more learning needed!)
However, I am confident with Media Production and the use of media production tools and software as I have made films and worked with final cut Pro, photoshop and basic animation tools. I have made audio plays and documentaries with open source software like audacity.

In playing around with the blog I am definitely interested in learning and expanding my knowledge of html, and how to manipulate code for customization. CSS is something I would like to have a better grasp of.

I am very interested in audio-visual archives and the process. I was surprised to learn that there is no set standard in this area and felt somewhat baffled/concerned when you consider the importance of audio-visual material over the last one hundred years and earlier (not to mention currently). I believe this to be a very organic process that can even incorporate projects as a form of archiving or documenting. I discovered that National Archive Australia is engaged in this way and I find this very interesting and relevant.
Digital preservation and web archiving is something I am definitely interested in learning more about.

Accessibility and improving access is another area that I am very interested in learning about. This is where concepts such as elibraries and websites become important as well as understanding community and provision via outreach services.

I have only just started delving into shared online spaces and communities for learning or collecting sources whether they be videos, blogs or other relevant digital ideas. It is definitely an expansive world and learning how to organize and become efficient with various sources and ideas is something I need to develop further.

Social networking online is something I have always been wary of as I worry about the trade-off with Privacy. This is an area I need to explore and learn more about and how it relates to Library 2.0.

Copyright is something I definitely want to get my head around in the online world and the concept of mashups as a form of production/reproduction…

What I do question is whether it is necessary for one individual person to have all these skills mentioned or is the process of internetworking, communication and sharing information and skills a way to achieve this list. To put it another way for emphasis, do we as a profession multi-skill or do we share expertise and offer specific areas of expertise from our past specialisations  as a way to strengthen the whole?

When you consider the range of people studying the Masters in Information Studies and the vast variety of fields one can work in upon graduation or during study, it becomes clear that each person has their own specific skillset and expertise to offer to the field of librarianship/information specialist.

…So what is the most important digital skill needed today?

In addition to understanding databases, catalogues and how to search effectively, being adaptable in a constantly evolving technological environment and having an ability to instruct people in the use of technologies for information purposes, there is one other skill that I feel is vital in today’s information landscape. That is communication via various formats to improve access to libraries and information.

The following interview with Librarian in Black delves into the importance of communication and how technology tools can help in bringing the library 2.0 people and people to the library.

The Librarian in Black interview from Jaap van de Geer on Vimeo.

Burke, J.J. (2009) Neal-Schuman Library Technology Companion: A basic guide for Library Staff, 3rd edition, Neal-Schuman Publishers Inc, New York.

 

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Future of the book

Future of the book photo taken at Sydney Airport 12th June 2011

While stuck at Sydney airport in the liminal space of travel, neither here nor there, we encountered a hyperliminal space when informed successively of further delays. In the end, we spent five hours at the airport waiting to travel. We were shifted to different gates, a bit like herding cattle around the airport with much confusion of which direction to travel/follow. In the end you follow the one ahead and hope you arrive at your destination and of course it always helps to check and recheck the electronic departures noticeboards for your ever-changing information.

It is always interesting to be in this liminal state, it is not something you can control and there is certainly nowhere to go; your only option is to wait and wait and wait…

I couldn’t help but look around and observe how people cope. Beyond this, as most people always pack some form of entertainment, often a book, I was curious about books being read. It was at this point, I observed the lady sitting in the $2 massage lounger with what appeared to be a very old and tatty cotton bound book. The pages were so yellowed, parched and aged. My interest was aroused about what is this old book and as curiosity would have it I moved closer to try and read the title and the closer I moved a new discovery unfolded…

There after what appeared to be a few initial pages was a section cut out within the book and snugly sat an e~reader! I was beside myself with excitement that I launched boldly forth and asked the lady in the massage lounge whether I could take a snap of her e~reader for my blog. She was too kind and obliged and here it is at the top of this post.

We chatted a bit and she explained she loves e~readers for travel as they are light and provide plentiful supply of reading material. Can’t argue with that! I want one too!!

On another note the future of the book is a very interesting point to ponder and the following two links are worth exploring. The first link is The institute for the future of the book and to use the descriptor provided by the site, ‘We’re a small think-and-do tank investigating the evolution of intellectual discourse as it shifts from printed pages to networked screens.‘ 

The next link is if:book Australia and it is the Australian connection to The institute for the future of the book.

… on the same topic of the future of the book, Jennifer Byrne presented a special on this on her First Tuesday Book Club in early May this year.

The following blog electric alphabet is of interest. It is the blog from Kate Eltham who is one of the panelists discussing the future of the book with Jennifer Byrne on the ABC program The First Tuesday Book Club.

The article published in The Age today titled Booksellers outraged over minister’s predictions by Charlotte Harper and Clancy Yeates is of relevance when thinking about the future of the book.

…finally the following clip from youtube provides food for thought.

 

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Transforming to a Library 2.0 ~ part 2

Last week on the university forum postings another person, studying our course while working as a TL, posted a request about information on Library Management systems as her school is embarking on an upgrade from Athena.  This is the  same system that is currently in operation at the school where I am helping out. From this request, a few more evaluations were posted regarding Oliver and Access-it. Interestingly, most limitations for both systems seem to keep coming back to reporting functions and formats. This was the same limitation that was presented from the High School we visited regarding Access-it.

One person posted a recommendation for Destiny. This was initially on our list as Mary, pointed to this system being the one that supersedes Athena. As a result, I looked into Destiny at their website and was able to find some clips from youtube as posted below. It happens to be a system that has been rolled out across 350 plus schools in New York.

As a result, I have forwarded this additional information to the IT coordinator including the youtube clips for both Access-it and Destiny. We looked at this information with Mary and she also shared an email she had received from the TL at her other school, sharing his notes from the Access-it evaluation after visiting the school. This too has been forwarded to the IT coordinator.

Mary has been signed up to OZTLnet and now she can post questions for help and suggestions.

At this stage, part of the criteria for the system that will be chosen relates to schools around us also utilising the same system as this will enable a local support network for troubleshooting and sharing ideas.

I posted another call for help on OZTLnet towards the end of last week regarding Destiny. I was interested in finding schools in Melbourne that had this system and organising a time to visit for evaluation purposes. The response I received was great. A few schools locally responded and we are attending a school tomorrow for a visit. Mary, myself and the TL from the other local school will be attending. The TL from the other local school has had all the information forwarded to him and I have forwarded the link to OZTLnet explaining how useful it is for TL’s to be part of this listserv.

Furthermore, I received evaluations from schools in other states and discovered you could visit their library website and navigate. The support for Destiny is Melbourne based and I have been in touch with them this week. They forwarded fantastic information regarding sites that have Destiny around the world and many have links to the site where you can visit. I had a browse around some sites and found Destiny very user friendly and easy to manipulate. It also has many of the functions and features our school is interested in.

I have included the following two links. The first link is to the New York city schools. It includes an integrated list of school libraries. If you click on any of the schools it takes you to that specific school library search facility. The second link is for Harpeth Hall School with an interesting visual  search facility that has links to podcasts and blogs.

Below are videos about Destiny. The videos are designed for students of New Canaan High School and it is the TL demonstrating how to search with Destiny and how to find ebooks with the Destiny Library Management System. The videos would be embedded in the library management system as tutorials for patrons.

 

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Transforming to a library 2.0 ~ A Journey Part 1

A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto - Wordle.net

A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto - Wordle.net~cc licensed and shared by Anna Stina

While completing my studies, I am helping out a local primary school in the library. The library as I mentioned in my post Where is the teacher librarian?, is without a teacher librarian. They do have Mary, who works there 3 days a week ,carrying out the administrative tasks of cataloguing, shelving and arranging the library, ordering new books. The weeding of the library is carried out in cooperation with a teacher who is a trained teacher librarian but does not work in the library at the school.

This term, we have two points of focus. The first is weeding the teacher resource area, as it seems quite cluttered and not effectively utilised. Mary has asked for my help in this area as I do have a teaching background. This area seems full with resources that appear incredibly old and hardly touched. It will be interesting to make an assessment of how often certain resources have been used over recent years and whether they are effective for the purpose of being a useful resource for the teachers now at the school.

The other point of focus is quite a large task as it involves a major transformation of the library systems with a view to moving towards 21 century library 2.0. The IT coordinator at the school asked for my assistance in this area and I have been glad to assist with my resources and learning.

The timeframe for researching the new system to implementation is terms 2, 3 and 4 of this year. They would like to purchase the new system and set it up in time for 2011. As I view this to be an important process in my learning, I will be charting the progress and steps to this transformation beginning with this first post.

Step 1 ~ initiation via informal discussion in Term 1

Informal discussions with the IT coordinator of the school, about libraries in the 21 century learning environment, capabilities and trends led to realising there is a shared understanding and desire to travel down this path. He spoke about wanting the library to be the centre of all learning at the school, wanting it not only as the hub but having an ability to extend beyond the walls into classrooms and beyond. We assessed the current library management system at the school and it is definitely dated, with many outmoded practices and steps. Not efficient and incapable of being networked to accommodate the changes the school would like to see. The IT coordinator mentions they want to upgrade the system in time for 2011 and asks whether I would be interested in helping with this process.

(Even though, I am not able to transfer this process into direct learning outcomes related to my course, I can see the journey will be beneficial. I can help the school with my learning and at the same time, I am undertaking a project that will enable me to learn steps in how to transform a library)

Step 2 ~ Assess the context

The school has a website and has undergone a great deal of transformation in the past 10 years regarding technology and effective use of technology in teaching and learning. There are links to learning levels and to classes including class blogs, student blogs, podcasts, videos and curriculum. There is a MAC lab both in the library and a portable MAClab on a trolley. They are utilised for creative and Web 2.0 tools in curriculum outcomes. The school operates across two platforms; PC and MAC. The library system is not able to be integrated across the platforms and is too dated to be capable of library 2.0 capabilities. Currently, the library is an under-utilsed resource. Classes have a lesson 1 hour per week and it is a very simple read a book and borrow session run by their classroom teacher. They also have a 1 hour a week MAC lab session run by the IT coordinator. The library is open most lunchtimes and staffed by teachers. There is a room dedicated to teacher resources that appears overflowing and in need of a tidy up and assessment.

Step 3 ~ Networks of information.

After conducting an initial research process both on the net (pretty futile with the lists of management systems I found) and speaking to a couple of high schools, I managed to limit the focus to about three different library management systems. I knew of Biblioteque as Mary at the primary school  had a real opposition to it. I spoke to a couple of high schools, who were utilising Biblioteque, and I discovered they too were in a process of upgrading and suggested Oliver as one they were interested in. It was pointed out that there is Oliver Jnr as a primary school interface. Contact details of the company in QLD that distributes Oliver were shared. I looked up the website and forwarded the details to the IT coordinator and the Principal at the primary school. Subsequently a CD rom as an evaluative tool has been sent to the primary school from the company softlink.

A local High school implemented Access-it recently. Mary organised a time for her and I to visit the library at this school and have a run through of how it is being utilised.

I had heard of OZTLnet through my course, but did not fully understand the benefits. I subscribed and silently read the correspondence for a while before I realised, it was a useful network resource where information can be sought or given. Armed with the information I had gathered, I needed further information. I needed evaluation of these systems and further advice. As a result, I posted an email on OZTLnet requesting help and advice on Oliver from schools who have implemented this system. I outlined the manner within which the primary school was interested in utilising the system and would love some information about it in practice. Within a day, I received a few responses, some critical and some positive. I even received a response from the person that coordinates this system for an educational region near us. This information was discussed and shared with the IT coordinator at the primary school. We determined that a visit to one of these schools would prove beneficial for further evaluation.

Interestingly, my OZTLnet email resulted in an email from the distributor of ‘Access-it‘ who identified two local schools that were currently utilising the system. One is the High school, which we had planned to visit and the other is a local primary school. It was also mentioned that they can visit the primary school and provide a demonstration. Again, all information has been shared with the IT coordinator as well as the Principal.

As part of this process I need to point out that Mary also works as a library technician at another local primary school and they have a TL working in the library two days a week. This school is embarking on a transformation being driven by a teacher that trained as a TL many years ago. Mary in working with him and attending the meetings at his school has been sharing the information of our journey. As a result, this teacher is keen to link up and share the information journey towards transformation.

Step 3~ School Visits.

We attended our first evaluative school visit at the local high school that implemented ‘Access it‘ only last Friday. In attendance was Mary, the TL from the other primary school and myself. What did we learn? At this high school they too did not have a TL employed. They have a Librarian that works 4 days a week. She was very helpful and was able to walk through the system and demonstrate capabilities. Even though the system was not being utilised to its full potential (limited time and resources), It clearly has capabilities of being implemented in the manner required. It has an interface that can be highly personalised and in terms of content management, it is very user-friendly (almost like a blog). I asked a great deal of questions and again shared them with the IT coordinator. The next step is to visit the local primary school that is operating this system and evaluate the application to a younger audience. Some questions that need answering revolve around visual search and curriculum links, intuitive language as a search strategy (ie tags),  pathfinders, integration of the web. Interactivity of the library Management system/Library with the students and teachers. We worked out you can add blogs, link it to the school website, there was an online ‘ask a librarian’ capability and permissions could be set for different purposes. Mary also found the system seemed so much easier than what she is currently using and felt enthusiastic.

This week I am hoping to sign Mary up to OZTLnet. I demonstrated this to her a couple of weeks ago by logging in and showing her the nature of the listserv and how helpful it is but also how helpful she could be with information she has. She read through some of the digests and realised, there was plenty she could share with other librarians and Teacher Librarians as she had certain resources or ideas that others were seeking.

Where to now?

We are organising the visits to the schools that have Access-it at a primary school level and ‘Oliver‘. At this stage we have narrowed the focus to these two systems. Once the school visits are complete, we will be calling the distributors and coordinators for a site visit where they can demonstrate the programs to the school and be able to provide a specific focus to the needs and questions of the application required within this school context.

I will keep you posted…

… in the meantime here are some related videos for Access-it. Unfortunately, I have not found any similar clips for Oliver

 

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Word Clouds ~ Wordle vs Worditout

Wordle: learning with information

Learning with information created at http://www.wordle.net

This is an example of a word cloud created utilising the Wordle tool. It is pretty straight forward. You go to Wordle click on create and paste in a group of words. The words I pasted were a combination of my tags from my blog and the addition of other words based on learning this semester. You can manipulate the look of your wordle by changing fonts, colour palettes, and text direction.

Another, word cloud web program is worditout, I discovered this after reading the blog http://priscillaslibraryreflections.blogspot.com/, (Thank you Priscilla!). Similar to wordle you click on create then you can paste in you’re selected text, add text and so forth. You can manipulate text size, word cloud size and colours.

21 Century Learning crated with WordItOut

21 Century learning created with wordItout.com

Word clouds are useful in enhancing presentations visually. They appeal to visual learners and can aid understanding. You can manipulate the word weighting to provide emphasis to some words over others and you can manipulate the shapes of your clouds, ie whether you want words to spill out the sides or be contained within border parameters.

The benefits of wordle appear in the ability to manipulate text direction whereas with worditout, the words appear as above, no vertical~horizontal mix up. However, in trying to embed both word clouds in this blog, I had difficulty manipulating the overall size of the wordle cloud, hence it remains small here. While I could paste the html code into this post with wordle and then view it visually, this did not occur with my worditout cloud. With worditout I had to download the word cloud to my desktop and then upload the image file into the post. More experimentation needed as I have seen word clouds created with wordle that appear larger on other blogs. Another benefit of both is that you can share them by making them public and others can use them in their presentations. Fantastic!

Who wins, they both do!

 

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Mr Paganini

Apart from Paganini being one of my favourite composers and virtuosos, I love Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of Mr Paganini. Tonight, I am celebrating as I have submitted my final assignment for the subject Teacher Librarianship. I am celebrating with a tap dance and listening to Ella Fizgerald!

Enjoy!

By the way  May 25th is International Tap Dancing Day!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 22, 2011 in 126 ~ The self, 780 ~ Music

 

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